Adolescent and Teen Dental Care

Adolescence is a complex time of growth and development. The combination of increased availability of sweetened foods and beverages, added independence, a low priority for oral hygiene and other social factors, adolescence also is considered a time of distinctive oral health care needs.

High Cavity Rate: To fight cavities, it is important to brush, floss, use fluoride, eat a healthy diet and maintain routine dental exams and professional cleanings to remove plaque and calculus.

Trauma: Trauma to permanent teeth commonly is the result of falls, traffic accidents, violence or sports injuries. The likelihood for dental and facial injuries to occur can be reduced by using protective equipment such as mouth guards and face guards. Mouth guards help prevent broken teeth and injuries to the soft tissue in and around the mouth. A custom-fitted mouth guard will stay in place while your child wears it and protect him/her from injury.

Orthodontic Considerations: Good oral hygiene is paramount when children are going through orthodontic treatment and have appliances, brackets, and bands fitted to their teeth. It is more difficult to clean teeth with braces, as food gets trapped easily. If food is left lodged on the bracket and wires, it can cause etching of the enamel surface of your tooth. Additionally, symptoms of gum disease may begin to show in your mouth in the form of swollen, bleeding gums. The pressure from the disease will slow down the tooth movement and prolong orthodontic care.

Tobacco Use: Tobacco use in any form can jeopardize your child’s health and cause incurable damage.  If your teen or young adult is a tobacco user, you should watch for the following early signs of oral cancer:

  • A sore that doesn’t appear to heal
  • White or red leathery patches on the lips and on or beneath the tongue
  • Pain, tenderness or numbness anywhere in the mouth or lips
  • Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving the jaw or tongue, or a change in the way the teeth fit together.
  • The early signs of oral cancer often are ignored because they typically are painless. If it goes undetected in the early stages, oral cancer can require extensive, sometimes disfiguring, surgery. Even worse, it can kill.

Help your child avoid all forms of tobacco. By doing so, they will avoid bringing cancer-causing chemicals in direct contact with their tongue, gums and cheeks.

Oral Piercings: Pierced tongues, lips or cheeks are a bad idea. There are numerous risks involved with oral piercings. They can cause chipped or cracked teeth, blood clots, blood poisoning, heart infections, brain abscesses, nerve disorders (trigeminal neuralgia), periodontal disease and scar tissue. Your mouth is filled with millions of bacteria, and infection is a frequent complication of oral piercing. Your tongue could swell large enough to close off your airway.

Common symptoms after piercing include pain, swelling, infection, an increased flow of saliva and injuries to gum tissue. Difficult-to-control bleeding or nerve damage can result if a blood vessel or nerve bundle is in the path of the needle.


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